I know, I know. My attempts at multimedia for this blog have been absolutely terrible… But these projects for school, (unfortunately) must come first. In this week’s attempt at multimedia bliss, I made a short 2 minute documentary of the Campus Library at my University, Point Park. This library has an interesting history. It started as one of the largest banks in Pittsburgh, then it became a mall. After this project failed it was bought up by the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and Point Park University, who both ran it jointly until 2004 when the CLP moved their downtown location elsewhere. Since then it has remained firmly in the hands of PPU. While the finished product is not as bad as I thought it would have, I had to spend 2 1/2 hours on iMovie to complete it. In all my days I have never experienced a worse software. Seriously, whoever says Apple is “user friendly” can go suck an egg.
One of my favorite places to visit and vacation in is Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, the site of one of the most defining moments in American History. This is for a myriad of reasons. First off it’s a beautiful city and surrounding area, with amazing buildings, a rolling countryside, and the monuments are amazing to behold. Another reason is, of course, the rich history of the town. There are few places in the US where, in only three days, so much history, raw fury, and passion have come together.
As any American high school student can tell you, the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1-3 1863) was the major turning point of the American Civil War. Up until that battle the Union was facing major defeats against the upstart Confederacy. The battle marked the farthest northern point that the Confederacy ever go into the US. A Union loss there would have left the population hub of Harrisburg and the great population center of Philadelphia open to Confederate occupation and some historians believe that a Confederate victory at Gettysburg would have meant an inevitable Confederate victory for the entire war. Thankfully this was not the case.
The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara is an amazing account of the battle told from the viewpoints of some of the key fighters in the battle. I enjoyed this much better than having the battle told from the viewpoints of a fictional soldier or two as it helps to humanize the historical giants such as Robert E. Lee or Joshua Chamberlain who stand like immovable marble statues in the text books of schools across the American Republic. I find that it is often hard to identify with historical figures as we often put both the heroes and villains of history on high pedestals, where they feel more like inhuman demigods rather than the human beings with both morals and defects like the rest of us that they truly were.
Much of the events in the story are also accompanied by maps of the battlefield along with the positions of the two feuding armies. This was also an enjoyable aspect of the book for me for two reasons. The first is that when studying battles in any context, I find it hard to picture where everything is. With the accompanying maps it was easier to picture where all the characters were and their movements throughout the story. The second reason I enjoyed the maps so much is due to the fact that because I’ve been to the actual site of the battle several times the places and the actions that took place there were more perfectly formed in my mind. At several points in my reading I shivered with excitement due to the fact that I’ve been in the exact spot Robert E. Lee once stood or have walked along the roads where great armies once made their march to destiny.
I feel that one of the shining moments in this story is the feelings and emotions that many of the characters felt as the fought or planned to fight. While we will never know the true thoughts and feelings of the proud warriors who fought at that battle, what Shaara did in this story in regards to thoughts and feelings is nothing short of amazing. It is almost as if he brought the mentality of the 19th century into our time through books form. The gentile mentality of honor and sacrifice for ones beliefs are no strangers to us today, but how the people of the 19th century took such feelings and beliefs seriously is in sharp contrast to how we see them today. Back then honor was everything to a man, while today only a small minority still even attempts to follow a code. The fact that Shaara was able to pull this off while still writing in the modern style and language we use today was also quite impressive.
If you are a fan or military fiction or American History and its accompanying drama is the is definitely the book for you.
View Libraries in the Pittsburgh City Limits in a full screen map
This is a map of all the libraries in the city area of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This map includes both public, school, and law libraries. It also includes their addresses and phone numbers, if they were available. It was made using batchegeo.com. While this was apart of a project for school I still found it interesting how many libraries there are in my hometown as well as how many different libraries there are. Now you may be saying to yourself “Well I have libraries in my hometown too, who cares?” Well Pittsburgh is rather different from most cities its size as, while most cities take up a whole county, Pittsburgh proper is actually only a rather small area of Allegheny County. Pittsburgh is only 58 square miles, while Allegheny is more than 700 square miles in size. To have 20 libraries in such a small concentrated area is an amazing thing to come across. It shows how much we as a society truly believe in the value of learning, contrary to poular belief. I was also surprised at how many different types of libraries I came across. I came across not only the usual public library, but law, medical and engineering libraries as well.